Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Riddle of Ritalin

Theater Review|"Distracted"

Never has a play been more aptly named than the new Roundabout Theatre production "Distracted". Because it is. Distracted. From content to production value, this play doesn't know where to start. Amid the dizzying sets, muddled dialogue delivered like bullets to the audience, and the already stale themes of Lisa Loomer's new play about the disorder du jour, this production is nothing but an educational editorial. 

Cynthia Nixon headlines the cast at the Laura Pels Theater and pretty much does all the work on stage, carrying the play on her shoulders and taking the material a little too seriously. Compared to the other actors, at least. The ensemble does a very good job of handling their multiple roles, even if they don't understand the gravity of some of the situations. It is a comedy, after all. But it borders on farce, and seems a little outdated. 

Nothing is worse in this world than being "so five minutes ago", and ADHD is in that time frame. Maybe Autism would have been a more appropriate disease to write about. (Of course, as we learn, ADHD is in the Autism spectrum.) Nevertheless the play reads as something from 2006 that was just found in the unpublished archives and dusted off for the Roundabout. For God's sake, there's a tired Bush joke jammed in there. Still, the play is entertaining when not acting like a de facto PSA. There are some funny moments, and some that make you sit and ponder for a spell. 

However upon seeing the humble ending to this play, you're left a bit unfulfilled on the subject matter. Or, maybe you're not. I wasn't really paying attention. 


By Lisa Loomer; directed by Mark Brokaw; sets by Mark Wendland; costumes by Michael Krass; lighting by Jane Cox; original music and sound by David Van Tieghem; projection and video design by Tal Yarden; associate artistic director, Scott Ellis. Presented by the Roundabout Theater CompanyTodd Haimes, artistic director. At the Laura Pels Theater, 111 West 46th Street, Manhattan; (212) 719-1300. Through May 10. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

WITH: Peter Benson (Dr. Daniel Broder/Allergist/Dr. Jinks/Dr. Karnes), Shana Dowdeswell (Natalie), Lisa Emery (Vera), Natalie Gold (Dr. Zavala/Waitress/Carolyn/Nurse), Matthew Gumley (Jesse), Mimi Lieber (Sherry), Aleta Mitchell (Dr. Waller/Mrs. Holly/Delivery Person/Nurse), Cynthia Nixon (Mama) and Josh Stamberg (Dad).

1 comment:

.kate said...

up at 9:45 am? Me too, I am trying to suck all the vacation out that I can. I loved this review, I would like to see the play, but now am having second thoughts. ADHD and Ritalin ARE so five minutes ago, we are on to bigger and better things like Autism, and Adderall.

Cheers to Monday.